|by David Hood|
Swinney gained another big-time “recruit” Wednesday night when defensive end Vic Beasley made the decision to return for his senior season, and while I wouldn’t dare infringe on Swinney’s turf and place a star rating on this recruit, it’s hard to imagine Beasley being much less than a 10.
Swinney and company have a solid recruiting class that will sign in early February, the real recruits, but the Clemson coaches not only get back a beast in Beasley, but they get back several players who missed all or part of last season and will be key contributors this fall.
Included in those numbers are defensive tackles Carlos Watkins and Kevin Dodd, linebacker Kellen Jones and wide receiver Charone Peake. Jones and Peake could be starters, while Dodd and Watkins add depth to an already-solid defensive line.
Swinney told us last week that Watkins (wreck) and Dodd (toe) should be ready for spring, while Jones and Peake (ACL) should be ready to go by the start of fall camp.
“Carlos is good and ready to go. I’m excited about getting him back in the fold. He’s going to be a sophomore again,” Swinney said. “It’s the same thing with Kevin Dodd. Those are two really good, talented young players that we’re going to get back. Kellen Jones is an exciting talent. He’s one of those guys that had he not gotten hurt, you could just see him emerging. We were using him in some of our sub packages. We’ll get him back. We’ll get Charone back. Both of those guys are doing great.
“They probably won’t be ready for spring, but could be. They’ll go through spring, but we probably won’t have any live work with those guys. It’s not like there’s a scoreboard counting. We’ll put them through all of the drill work and that kind of stuff and really take the spring to get them back and acclimated to the flow things, really get their confidence and all of that kind of stuff. As far as them going live, I don’t see that this spring. There’s really no need for that. They will probably be in green jerseys – doing everything, but no contact.”
Running back Tyshon Dye didn’t play last season, but was expected to compete for a job before injuring himself in fall camp. He had back surgery in the fall, and Swinney was asked if he thinks Dye will be able to be the same player he was before the surgery.
“I don’t have any reason to not be (confident.) We’ve got Kalon Davis, who’s 300-plus-plus-plus-plus pounds. They really had the same injury, but Kalon’s was a lot worse,” he said. “A lot worse, actually, than Tyshon’s. Tyshon had some ankle surgery, while he was in the midst of this back rehab, that he cleaned up and injured in high school. I don’t have any reason to not be confident that he’s going to be ready to go. I don’t know where he’ll be this spring. Not really concerned, to be honest with you. I just want him to be ready to go when we get to camp come August. I know he wants to go right now today. But you have to be careful.”
Swinney said the ankle surgery was performed to correct an injury he suffered his senior season of high school.
“He’d just been playing with it. He just thought he’d deal with it,” he said. “So hopefully we’re able to get him some relief with what he’s dealing with in his ankle, but anytime you’re dealing with a back, you want to proceed very cautiously. So again, I don’t have any reason to be concerned, but until you see a guy out there doing it again, there’s always a little bit of caution.”
David Hood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org